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2009 Trip with Lionel
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Day 84 - August 1

P retty slow day with not a lot to report.Watched the V8s racing at Sandown and was disapointed that a Holden won! Lets hope tomorrows race turns out better. I bought some chicken strips a couple of days ago and used half to make a tasty savoury pasta. Today I dipped the rest in flour and fried them till they browned. I had vegies with them - I'm sure you are fascinated by my culinary activities! Then it was 'The Bill' on the telly and so to bed.

Day 85  - August 2

Computer frustration again. I bought and downloaded a new Australia map for my TomTom GPS but try as much as I liked I couldn't load it into the device. Apparently it's in a PC format and doesn't get recognised by my Mac. I'm seeking an answer on various forums and from TomTom support but no joy so far.

This morning I had a stroll around the nearby Tolga markets. There's only one market with lots of stalls but up here they always talk of the market in the plural. Confusing.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned going to the 'Warbirds' at Mareeba Airport but I didn't have my camera. Today I got some pics through the fence - I didn't want to pay again.

By the way the pictures I use are gifs to make them load easily but they lose a bit of definition. Here's the DC3 again as a jpeg with a bit of Photoshop fiddling. I made it too light but you can see the difference.

Day 86 - August 3

Last night someone on a forum gave me a Sydney number to ring for TomTom support so I rang them this morning and the techie soon found the cause of my problem. I was using an out of date version of TomTom Home - the software that lets you connect with the device. It was a tedious process backing everything up and then updating the software but once done the map loaded and is in the TomTom. It remains to be seen if the new map has some of the newer estates etc on it. I'll give it a try later because I know the estate near Bendigo where friends live wasn't on the old map.

Day 87 - August 4

This could have been a sad day but I didn't let it turn out that way. It would have been our 58th Wedding Anniversary if Vi hadn't departed last January. Rather than sit around and be mournful, I decided to drive to Chillagoe - some 160km away through beautiful countryside and while in that historic town to do a tour of one of the many caves that are present in the area.

Murphy came of course and made sure the camera battery charger failed and the battery was flat so no pics today I'm afraid. The cave tour was interesting but not as good as some other caves I've visited like the Jewel Cave in Western Australia for instance.

No camera - but here's a couple of pics' I had a huge steakburger with the lot for lunch here. The waitress looked a bit surprised when I asked for a knife and fork!

This pic is in the Royal Arch Cave.  It was quite hot outside in the afternoon but cool in the cave. There were times when you ducked your head or gave it a bang.

Murphy continued his naughtiness when I got back to Mareeba. I took the camera battery into the Tandy store to buy a new charger for it. The only one they had was a multi purpose device that will charge all sorts of batteries so I bought it although at $79.95  it was a bit expensive. It wasn't until I got back to the van that I discovered that I must have left the battery on the shop counter. I did ring and leave a message in the hope they don't throw it away.

His other trick was to turn the wine into vinegar in the new cask I bought on the way home. It's been an alcohol-free night tonight!

Day 88 - August 5

Fortunately the battery was safe and I was very relieved when I left Tandy with it. The wine episode turned out OK as well. I went back to Coles. said that the wine was undrinkable and was told to get another. No drama. No fuss.

Later I went out to dinner in Mareeba with friends from the ACC - a lovely night.

Day 89 - August 6

Not alot happened today - I did my washing if that intersts anybody and did some proof reading for the Nomad - the ACC quarterly magazine. We had another picture show at night - this time it was The Man from Snowy River Part 2. We saw the original last week. The man who brings the screen and equipment uses a huge flat trailer that started life as a tandem axle caravan.

I decided on another week here - that will be a month up here on the Tableland and it's been a very restful time.

In case you haven't quite worked out where I am here's a map of the area.

Walkamin is about halfway between Atherton and Mareeba just west of Cairns

Day 90 - August 7

 I was determined to walk further today so I went into Atherton and walked the length of the main street looking at shops which is far less boring than just walking. I also did a bit of shopping and walked around the supermarket. Despite all this the pedometer only registered a bit over 4,000 steps for the day - not even half what my doc says I should achieve.

On the way back I did what I really enjoy - exploring by-ways. I turned left at Tolga and went about 10km through lovely country with large properties - all with views of the valley below and the distant hills. Sorry but I didn't have the camera with me today.

While having a coffee at Gloria Jeans I looked through the local paper and saw an advertisement in the sits vacant for a 'Banana Desuckerer'. That's not a profession I aspire to!

As usual there was nothing much on telly so I watched an episode of Midsomer Murders that I'd recorded. It's been great having my PVR with me so I can record shows for viewing later. Very good for Formula 1 car racing when they are held in Europe in the middle of our night.

Day 91 - August 8

Today I've been spending the kids inheritance! My frying pan has been annoying me as it has a raised bit in the middle, has lost its non-stick there as well and has generally had it. Instead of another cheapish pan I decided I needed a Scanpan like I have at home and that meant a trip down the mountain to Cairns. Apart from anything else it's a lovely trip as these pictures from the lookout show.

Then I went back to the Coffee Works in Mareeba. We all went there during the muster but didn't do the tasting or look through the extensive museum. This time I did and it was most interesting.

The picture above shows just some of the types of coffee available for tasting - there were others as well as liqueurs and chocolates.

On the left is a large picture depicting the processes from berries to the cup.

Day 92 - August 9

The Scanpan is great! I fried bacon and eggs and tomatoes and bread this morning and it cooked so evenly and just wiped out with no fuss. Expensive but a joy to cook with.

I had a Board meeting at night - nearly three hours of staring at the computer but the meeting was productive and sorted quite a few things out for the smooth running of the club.

I took a couple of my books to the little Post Office here at Walkamin and a lady here in the park bought one and asked me to sign it. Others saw the book and were interested so today I took some over to where everyone was having Happy Hour and I sold seven books! I signed them all and everyone was pleased - particularly me. It looks as though I'll have to get some more sent up from Mornington as I've only got a few left and I won't be home for ages yet.

Day 93 - August 10

This was a day for frustration - two of my four email accounts kept demanding a password and of course I couldn't remember them. They are all different and I eventually foung them and got them working only to find later in the day that another went on the blink.

I used up all the days for my free trial of an anti-spam programme - there were only 3 hours left when I checked so I signed up for a year. It really works now it's learnt my kinds of spam - more than 2,500 spam emails in 30 days!

On the way into Atherton I saw hundreds of birds in a newly cultivated field. I don't know what they were and the pics not clear. They are probably Ibis.

Talking of pictures I loved this one I pinched from a UK caravanner's Blog of his recent trip to Italy - thanks David

Day 94 - August 11

I finally got all my email accounts sorted. The latest nonsense was when the computer started sending emails bearing the following address instead of and the Postmaster at BigPond kept saying it couldn't be delivered. Can you see why? Sharp eyes will have noticed the 'nnn' in the first one!

Today I got a lovely email from daughter Sue - some pictures she took yesterday of my house and garden including  this lovely Prunis that I never see in blossom as I'm always 'Up North' when the tree is in bloom.

I was intrigued when I first found out that Ladies Fingers bananas grew on tall plants so today I went with the camera and got a couple of pictures. Here's one.

No - they don't employ out of work basket-ballers to harvest them - I believe they use a special machine to reach them

Day 95 - August 12

I've been talking a lot about bananas recently - here are some sugar bananas and a machine they use to put the bags on hands of Lady Fingers plus trimming surplus fronds. The one I saw working seemed most unstable and I don't think they use them much for harvesting.

Today was my last day here at Walkamin and I'll really miss the place and the people. We've really been like one big happy family and if any one from the park reads this please pass on my best wishes to all who made my stay so enjoyable.

Day 96 - August 13

Quite a few people came to see me off this morning - thanks folks. I was away by 10 o'clock and had a leisurely drive through lovely scenery  with a chicken burger at the Palmer River Roadhouse to keep the hungers at bay. I also filled up with petrol there as I knew the lpg would soon run out.

The Archer Point Road was unsealed and a bit rough in parts but it was worth it for the absolutely fabulous views once reaching the coast. There are only a few people camped here but it's hard to find a level spot to set up camp. I settled for one near the road with great views but the downside is more wind and a bit of dust from passing vehicles.

There's no phone or internet reception but a rugged drive to the lighthouse gets both. I'll send this to the net in the morning when I go to check my email.

I set up my satellite TV tonight but had to go back up to the lighthouse to ring Optus and get it reactivated. 7 Central doesn't work so I'll have to ring them in the morning - another lighthouse trip! Looks like a daily happening!

This is the view from my window!

Day 97 - August 14

This is a magic place! No facilities but I've got all I need, shower, toilet, satellite TV, gas fridge, gas cooking, internet when I go up to the lighthouse and then I can use the phone if I want.

I'll try to add a PDF slide show of views around my campsite. Click for show  
This will download to your computer but you'll need Adobe Reader to view it. I'll do something better when I work out how! 
Or wait till tomorrow - when I'll link to full size pics

I had a relaxing day just gradually getting set up and reading etc in between. I've now got 7 Central so can watch Deal or No Deal!

Day 98 - August 15

Another relaxing day! Went up to the lighthouse and checked and answered email. Used Skype to talk to both daughters  - great facility. Tried to work out a better way with photos but unless I go to an on-line storage I can't find a way to put it up as a slideshow. I know it can be done! (Click for slideshow)   I think you will enjoy these

Now I've got telly, Saturday night is great with Foyles War following The Bill. Plenty of sun here so the solar panels are taking the batteries to fully charged each day without bother.

I've misplaced the remote for the Strong reciever for sat tv but fortunately it retains earlier settings for C4  so it's not a real problem. Finding the 'bird' is a bit easier when you can see the right page for signal strength. It's easier than using the sat finder.

I think I've done it at last -

Click for slideshow

Then click the back button to return here

Or if you'd rather click for full size pics

Day 99 - August 16

I haven't mentioned my mate Murphy recently but today he played a nasty prank on me. Where I am now is about 25km from Cooktown = 10km of very dusty, and at places rough, unsealed road and 15km of smooth, lovely bitumen. I decided to go into town to do a bit of shopping, fill my two jerrycans with water and do my internet business.

All went well until I had almost reached the checkout. My wallet was still in the van! I put my basket of goodies down and went out to Trixie. She only had a bit of silver - not enough for even an ice-cream and I was longing for a drumstick. So I did the internet stuff, got some water, had a good look round and drove back home again to the van.

NOW there's a debit card in the glove box and a handful of gold coins in the tray so I can't get caught moneyless again. I'll shop again tomorrow.

There's a wind farm mooted for this area and I can vouch for the constant wind. It was so bad I rolled the awning in tonight as it felt so gusty I was fearful it might get wrecked even though I had it roped down. I rocked and rolled all night last night. It's still warm though - more than 20 degrees overnight and mid twenties in the day.

Day 100 - August 17

A bit of a milestone - or should that be a kilometrestone - today. It's a hundred days since I left home on this trip and Murphy celebrated by giving me a flat tyre this morning!  I was going to go to the lighthouse to connect to the net but after changing the wheel I decided to leave it until the morning and go to Cooktown to get the puncture fixed. I hate driving with no spare. I was going today to shop and do some washing but some ladies camping down from me asked me to watch their camps while they went to the 'Lions Den' for lunch. I'll leave it till tomorrow.

The wind makes it difficult to light the hot water system but I've devised a way of using a large piece of cardboard as a windbreak to keep the matches alight while I light the pilot. I wasted so many matches before that so I'll have to buy more when I shop.

Day 101 - August 18

I spent most of today in Cooktown with the most important task being getting the puncture mended - I hate having no spare! Other jobs were filling up with lpg at 99.9 cents/litre, getting water in my jerrycans, emptying the cassette for the toilet, doing the washing at the laundromat and checking and answering emails. While on the net I uploaded this site update and tested some picture links. I also had fish and chips while the washing was being done - the fish shop is conveniently next to the laundromat.

Talking of pictures here are some pics I took from the Grassy Hill lookout in Cooktown. Click to see.

A few new campers arrived today and the area down near the beach is looking a bit crowded.

An email from Alby today asked about the swimming - here's what stops me getting into the water. Crocs! Haven't seen any but ...............

There are three ladies on their own here - Meg with a campervan, Trish a caravanner seen here in the photo pointing to the Croc warning sign and Karen with a camper-trailer. They all come from around Bundaberg but had never met till they came here..

The beach is nice but I still didn't swim!

Day 102 - August 19

This was Karen's last night here and we all - the three girls and me - sat around the lovely campfire she had lit and swapped yarns while sipping wine. I rustled up a few hamburgers which went down well with bread.

When the wine ran out we shared Karen's port and by bedtime nobody was feeling any pain! That's not quite true because Meg's chair collapsed at one stage and the fall jarred her. She is recovering from a cycling accident and has broken bones in her pelvis.  A great night and great company. Thanks girls.

Day 103 - August 20

Another day in Cooktown - this time to collect the books and mail Sue has sent me up. She managed to get nine books plus the mail into a 5kg Express Mail satchel and that should keep me going for a while.

I also did my internet business and a bit of shopping plus getting more water. With the water I pick up in town I can shower everyday with no worries - not lingering under the lovely hot water though.

Today I saw a great example of thoughtlessness. A couple stopped their outfit in the middle of the road and went off to walk on the beach for at least half an hour. Vehicles wanting to get past had to go off the road with two wheels!

Day 104 - August 21

This is where I have to go to get an internet connection - right at the top next to the lighthouse. You need good eyes to see it from here.

Trish left this morning but another two rigs came in - a fifth-wheeler and a camper-trailer towed by a Discovery.

Steve with the 'fiver' is on his own and lives full-time on the road.

Day 105 - August 22

Where's the wind? It dropped to a gentle breeze today so out went the awning. I made up some alloy clips to make it easier to fasten the awning tie-down ropes. It's surprising how often I need to use my cordless drill, hacksaw and the vice I bolt on to the A-frame.

We didn't light a 'happy hour' fire tonight but did have an enjoyable time sitting around sipping and chatting.

The Bill and Foyles War took up most of the evening and then to bed and sleep for a few hours before the wind got up -  and I got up  -  to roll in the awning!

Day 106 - August 23

This was a day for communications. I went to the lighthouse in the afternoon and made calls to Jackie, Sue, Anne D and Roy. Unfortunately Roy must have been out and his mobile off or out of range but I left a message. He's been trying to get me for days I think not knowing I'm only in contact every couple of days.

I also got my emails and updated this diary

Day 107 - August 24

Not a lot to report today - went to the lighthouse and activated Imparja - it cost $55 but it lasts a year. It does give a wider choice of programmes. I've now got ABC and SBS from all time zones, Seven Central and Imparja which is mostly Ch. 9.

There will be funny pictures when I get them from Meg. I applied red dye to her hair and Steve took pics of the action. Must admit it looked fine at happy hour when as usual we all gathered for drinks and yarns. (As you see I got the pics!)

Day 108 - August 25

Cooktown again today. A few jobs to do like getting water, emptying the toilet, doing the washing and shopping. Also needed to fill an lpg cylingder and was amazed when the cashier said $46! A check after I'd expressed great surprise and it came down to $39 which was still exorbitant. A swap and go was only $1 dearer. It's about $23 at BCF in Cairns.

I also caught up with Anne on the phone and she and Don are pretty certain they will be going to Mildura so it looks as though my trip south will include Brisbane and going from there to the Murray River. I had thought of going home inland and then heading to the Muster from there but that's now on hold.

Another 'Readers Rigs' story from here today. Steve and his lovely Travelhome fifth-wheeler will make a nice little feature.

Steve is an ex-NZ Navy cook and is full-time on the road in Australia.

Day 110 - August 26

 Today Steve, Meg and me went to the Lions Den for lunch. It's old and quite famous - way out in the sticks at the start of the Bloomfield Track. People have written on every available wall space and the ceiling.

Dogs are welcome at the Lions Den - but not in the bar!

Day 111 - August 27

It was a bit sad packing up to get back on the road again this morning. There have been so many great people here during the past 2 weeks and I look forward to meeing up with some of them along the road someday.

Little did I know that I was to meet one couple - Fred and Irene - when I got to Walkamin at journey's end tonight. Some of the people I'd met during my month here previously were still here as well and it was a bit like a home-coming.

Having internet contact all the time is a bonus and I was able to ring Jackie to see how she liked her new job in Kalgoorlie. She loves it! She starts at 3.30am but that doesn't worry her.

The couple next to me had been on a hot-air balloon trip today and their enthusiasm got me intrigued so I did some research on the net and I'll book tomorrow to go ballooning on Monday. I have to be in Mareeba by 4.30am and I don't know how I'll wake in time. Maybe I should stay up!

Day 112 - August 28

Well the ballooning is all fixed for Monday at dawn! I looked up a car wash in Mareeba but when I got there I found Murphy had played one of his little tricks and it was closed and showing a 'For Sale' sign.

I did a bit of shopping including getting the script filled that had been languishing at the Seaforth Post Office for weeks and had been forwarded to Walkamin. Then I drove back 32km the other way to Atherton and Trixie turned from a very red car back to her normal white! You could have started a garden with the red dirt that came off when I put the high-pressure hose on her - the road in to Archer Point is very dusty indeed.

Day 113 - August 29

Today I found out details of the Tag-along tour being run by our Moreton Bay Drifters Branch and sent an email to Anne  to see if she and Don would like to go on it. It seems pretty certain that they will, so my itinerary now includes returning via Yatala south of Brisbane by about the 14th Sept and helping get the Dunstans organised for the trip that starts at Goondiwindi on the 1st of October.

The weather is as close to perfect as can be and I spent a lot of time sitting outside and reading. Happy hour each night of course here at Walkamin. I should have some pictures for you from aloft tomorrow.

By the way I've discovered that the pages I set up perfectly using NVU look fine in Firefox but the spacing is all over the place in Internet Explorer. Sorry to all the PC users who haven't yet found Firefox. Until I find another free web authoring application that's IE friendly I'm afraid it will have to remain a bit of a mess on IE.

Day 114 - August 30

Today I didn't go out but spent a lot of time on the computer. All arrangements are now go for the tag-along and Anne and Don have made their bookings. I now plan to be at Yatala around the 13th to help get organised for the trip.

The manager from the balloon company rang and gave me another hour in bed - I don't have to be there now until 5.30am so I can have a lay in!

Day 115 - August 31

This was the big day and I managed to wake up, have some coffee and shower and still get to Mareeba before 5.30am. I was surprised by how many buses there were and how many people were going aloft on a Monday morning. I'll have to write the trip up in more detail - perhaps a Caravan World article because it was simply great.

I took a lot of pictures but it was too dark early on to get good shots. Here are a few:

Click for ballooning pictures

Click to go to September